Petria Thomas OAM


Awarded Life Membership 19 May 2023


Birth: 25 August 1975, Lismore NSW


Petria Thomas OAM, a swimmer from Lismore, NSW, gained an Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) scholarship and made her international swimming debut at the age of 17 in the 1993 Short Course World Championships, where she won bronze in the 200m butterfly.

From there, Thomas went on to win 12 Commonwealth Games medals in total beginning with two gold medals in the 100m Butterfly and 4x100m medley relay at the Victoria 1994 Games. Defending her titles at the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games, she collected gold in both events as well as the 200m butterfly soon later.

At the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, Thomas won five gold in each of the 50m, 100m, and 200m butterfly, as well as the 4×100 freestyle and medley relays. She also took home silver in the 4×200 freestyle relay and bronze in the 200m freestyle.

Her outstanding performances made her the first female swimmer ever to win the same event – the 100-metre butterfly – at three consecutive Commonwealth Games. During her representative swimming career, Thomas also won three Olympic and three world championship gold medals in Fukuoka, Japan.

Shadowing the equal highest medal performance by an Australian woman beside the best Commonwealth Games alumni, Dawn Fraser and Susie O’Neill, Thomas medal tally reached eight Olympic medals including three gold, four silver, one bronze.

Her ankle reconstructions and significant shoulder injuries that long recovery times saw the retirement of the swimming legend after winning Olympic gold in Athens in 2004.

Following her retirement, Thomas became Team Leader at three Commonwealth Youth games including Bendigo 2004, Pune 2008, and Isle of Man 2011, as well as part of headquarters staff at the Melbourne 2006, Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Deputy Chef de Mission at the Gold Coast 2018 Games, Petria was appointed Australia’s first female Chef de Mission for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

She was Australian swim team captain from 2001-2004, was three times crowned AIS Athlete of the Year (2001, 2002 and 2004). After winning the 2004 ‘The Don’ Award for her inspiring performance at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and Australia’s flag bearer at the closing ceremony, recaps off her outstanding twelve-year swimming career that outshines her induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2007.

Petria Thomas OAM at the 2022 Queen's Baton Relay ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games


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